South Carolina is known for beautiful lakes and reservoirs, including Lake Hartwell, Lake Keowee, and Saluda Lake. These bodies of water allow residents and visitors a plethora of recreational activities like fishing and boating. However, the fun you can have in the Palmetto State is not without risk. You should be aware of potential dangers while on the water. Read below to learn more about what you should do after a boating accident in South Carolina.
Report Your Boating Accident to the Authorities
If you have a boating accident in South Carolina, you are required to report the incident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). You can call them immediately at 1-800-922-5431.
If the accident involved more than one boat or anyone was seriously injured, you should also call the police. You can use the emergency line 911 to request an ambulance or rescue personnel. If you only need to document the crash and have a police officer file an accident report, then you may also call the local non-emergency line.
You are required to report any watercraft accident that results in:
- A missing person
- A fatality
- Injury that requires more than simple first aid
- A destroyed vessel
- Property damage of $2,000 or more
Failure to make a report can result in penalties pursuant to state and federal laws.
Get Medical Treatment
The person who was injured in the boating accident should immediately get medical treatment. Some injuries, such as a concussion or bruises, may not appear for hours or days after an accident. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor right away to establish a basis for your injuries.
The medical records from your urgent care or emergency room visit will be used in your insurance claim to prove how much money you deserve for your losses. If you fail to get medical treatment, you may not be able to get all of the compensation you deserve.
Document the Scene and Collect Contact Information
In the aftermath of a boating accident, it is important to document what happened. The lakes of South Carolina can quickly hide evidence. You should take pictures and videos of the watercraft involved (including their vessel numbers), any injuries people sustained, and the environment around the incident.
Also, collect contact information and insurance policy numbers from everyone involved in the accident. If there are eyewitnesses, make sure you get their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. You will need this information to give your attorney a head start on investigating what happened.
Do Not Admit Fault or Speculate About the Cause
When you are talking to the other parties involved in the boating accident, do not admit fault. Even if you are unsure what happened and think you may be partially to blame, you should never say that to the other parties. They will use this against you.
Instead, calmly communicate with anyone else who was involved as well as the authorities when they arrive. When providing a report to the police or SCDNR agent, remain factual. Do not volunteer unnecessary information. Don’t speculate what may or may not have caused the accident.
Notify Your Insurance Company
As soon as possible after the accident, you should notify your insurance company of the incident. Many insurance companies require 24 to 48 hours’ notice; otherwise, they may deny your claim. You will also want to contact any other insurance companies with which you plan on filing a claim.
Be careful when you speak to the insurance adjusters. Their job is to pay you as little as possible so that the company continues to make money. They will use anything you say against you. It’s best to talk to a boating accident lawyer before you call the insurance companies.
Don’t accept an initial offer from the insurance company and never sign anything until you get legal advice. The insurance company may throw money at you in an attempt to make the claim go away. However, it will not likely cover all your losses. Instead, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney who can properly calculate your damages and help you get what you deserve.
Contact a Boat Accident Lawyer for Help After an Accident
Boating is supposed to be fun, but when an accident occurs the situation can become confusing. You may be unsure of where to turn or what to do. Your best option is to call a boat accident attorney who can evaluate your situation and help you choose your next steps.
Attorney Ryan Montgomery has helped countless clients who had boat accidents in lakes and on waterways around Greenville, SC. He is here to guide you as well. Call today at (864) 207-4927 for a case consultation.